Nashville Radio Show: CASA Works

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. We are members in good standing with Tennessee CASA and National CASA serving Bedford, Coffee and Franklin Counties in middle Tennessee.

I was hired to be an Advocate Supervisor for Coffee County in 2019 and performed that work until August 15, 2014 when I became the Executive Director. Advocate Supervisors are staff who support, direct and train volunteers. CASA Works currently has 4 staff members. Three of which supervise the three counties that we serve.

  • Our Mission is to: Provide A Voice for abused and neglected children in Bedford, Coffee and Franklin Counties.
  • Our Values are: ADVOCACY, COMMITMENT, STABILITY, PROTECTION, PERMANENCE
  • Our Vision is: that every abused and neglected child who enters the court system Has a special advocate.

In 2018, we served 469 children, so far this year as of June 30, 2019 we have served 415. Staff alone cannon serve that many children.It is done by volunteers who live in each county recruited to advocate for abused and neglected children.Volunteers are recruited through events that highlight the mission, speaker’s bureau, newspaper articles, persons who inquire on-line and work of mouth

Process to becoming a volunteer:

  • A prospective volunteer must be 21 years of age, submit to an extensive background check, Attend the 35-hour training, monitor court proceedings, attend on-going training totaling 12 hours per year to keep up with changing trends in our field of work; commit to at least one year of service or until the child has a safe, permanent home.
  • A volunteer cannot transport a child, take a child(ren) into their home, give legal advice, give money or expensive gifts to the child(ren) or family which enable them to maintain a level of objectivity and boundaries that empowers the volunteer to make “best interest” recommendations on the child’s behalf
  • They undergo an intensive interview performed by CASA Works staff to determine if that prospective volunteer possesses the integrity to be accepted as a volunteer
  • When they are accepted. The volunteer will attend 35 hours of training which occurs twice a week for 3 ½ hours for 8 weeks. After completing the training, the volunteer is sworn in by the juvenile judge of the county they are going to serve making them a “Friend of The Court”.

When the judge appoints CASA to a case, we are given an Appointment Order which gives CASA judicial permission to read all documents pertaining to the case, talk to everyone that affects that child’s life; access to medical and mental health records; attend all school meeting; Department of Children Services Child and Family Team meetings. The volunteer and supervisor also attend all court hearings.

CASA Standards require volunteers to visit children at least once a month, more if needed. After the volunteer has interviewed all parties, a Court Report is developed by the supervisor and volunteer which contains all records reviewed, all persons interviewed including the child and parents. CASA volunteers ask the child what they would like to tell the judge. This is the opportunity for the child to express in their own words what their desires are and we include that in the report (exactly what the child says). We also include the child’s status. The environment that the child is placed, school and grade information, if they are thriving in their placement and all pertinent information for the judge to know if this placement is meeting the child’s needs. Recommendations are included in the report. The list of recommendations are fact based, objectives that addresses what needs to happen for the child’s best interest. This report provides the judged a larger picture of what is happening and what needs to happen for that child. It helps the judge make better decisions for the best interest of the child. Presently CASA has a total of 50 volunteers who serve and will serve over approximately 500 children by the end of the year.

Since CASA works is a non-profit organization, we must seek financial assistance through grants, fundraisers, community organizations, businesses and individual donations.

Learn more: http://www.casaworks.org

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